Take a situation where you have just been promoted and are now in charge of leading and motivating others. You want to drive new initiatives and will need others to agree and cooperate with you. How will you inspire action? If you think formal authority alone is enough to be persuasive, think again.
To quote Kate Blanchard, co-author of One Minute Manager, “In the past, a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people. They can no longer lead solely based on positional power.” The authority that stems from your position as manager is just one of the many sources of power that you can rely on to get things done. Your knowledge, network, reputation, character and personal charm are other sources you can and should tap into in order to accomplish your mission.
Here are some strategies to activate your other power bases that will allow you to make a difference in your organization:
Gain centrality and enhance your credibility
“Knowledge is power” ~ Francis Bacon
It can hardly be debated that people who lack formal power can exert very little influence on others. Your recent promotion might have brought you more formal power than you had before, but it may not be enough to fulfill your high-level ambitions. If you aspire to gain access to important organizational resources or visibility with top-level executives, you must enhance your credibility and gain centrality in the organization.
To achieve this, ask yourself if you have something unique to offer to your organization that will make you indispensable. Perhaps you enjoy an enviable reputation for being honest or dependable; how about your knowledge and expertise? Knowledge indeed is power. If people perceive you as someone knowledgeable, hard-working or trustworthy, they are more likely to be influenced by you.
Develop networks and alliances
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” ~ Old African proverb
When you become a manager, you don’t just get formal authority but also new duties and responsibilities. You must learn to manage not only your team, but also the context within which it operates. Oftentimes, you will have far less time and autonomy than you might have imagined.This is why you need to rely on the cooperation of other people to get things done swiftly.
These individuals could be people within the organization (such as your peers, supervisors or direct reports) as well as people outside the organization (such as customers, vendors, and competitors). You cannot demand commitment from people; you have to earn it.
One way to do this is by building networks and alliances to accomplish your goals. Create opportunities to spend time with your supervisor, peers or customers. You can do this at office as well as in less formal settings such as over lunch. Be open to being an active participant in your organization. Getting involved in community projects or other special organizational initiatives will allow you to get to know people from other divisions.
Develop and employ eloquence
Studies have shown that people who are more expressive generally have a greater ability to lead and influence others. Why?
Because they are more aware of their ideas, emotions and reactions; they, therefore, have a tendency to reach a greater audience than less expressive people. So, the final recommendation would be to develop your communication skills and eloquence. It will allow you to inspire and motivate people. However, remember, that if you don’t walk your talk, an `inspiration gap’ will surface which will eventually cause you to lose credibility.
In conclusion, it pays to remember that power is not about having absolute control, exploiting people in selfish ways or manipulating others. The proper attitude to have towards power is to see it as a tool to influence people in an ethical way to achieve desired organizational outcomes.Staying true to your core values and beliefs and engaging others when exercising power will allow you to use it in a more authentic and responsible manner.
The author of the article is Founder CEO & Chief Trainer at Work Better Training. Work Better Training is one of India’s fastest growing Executive Education and Training firm. The views expressed here are personal.
*This article was published in Mumbai Mirror.